Dr. Walt's Health Blog

Archives for the Month of July, 2012

WHO: Gonorrhea could soon become untreatable

The AP reports that gonorrhea “is growing resistant to drugs and could soon become untreatable, the World Health Organization [WHO] said.”

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Disney announces nutritional standards for food ads

To glowing reports and near universal praise, the Walt Disney company announced new nutrition standards for food products targeted at children and advertised on its children directed media.

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Blood test may help predict recurrence of breast cancer.

NBC Nightly News reported on new research that “could lead to a simple way of telling women who have already been treated for breast cancer, whether their disease could come back.”

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Psychotherapy by telephone as effective as face-to-face therapy for depression

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports that a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association “suggests that, for the depressed, getting psychotherapy by phone might make sense.”

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Studies: Fatherhood appears to result in hormonal changes

USA Today reported, “A study published last fall in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a drop in levels of testosterone, a hormone associated with masculinity, when men became first-time fathers.”

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Palliative care programs grow throughout US

AP reports, “Hospitals across the country have been adding programs in palliative care – which focuses on treating pain, minimizing side effects, coordinating care among doctors and ensuring the concerns of patients and their families are addressed – at a feverish pace.”

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Daily aspirin to prevent heart disease increases risk of GI or cerebral bleeding

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) raised a red flag, saying the risk of bleeding even from low dose aspirin everyday is greater than previously thought.

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Runners live longer, but extreme endurance exercise damages heart

The CNN “The Chart” blog reports, “The old adage, “all good things in moderation,” may be true, especially when it comes to exercise,” according to two new studies.

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Coordinated, statewide system speeds care for heart attacks

ABC World News reported, “More than 1.2 million Americans will suffer a heart attack this year and today, a new report declared one state, North Carolina, is showing the rest of us how to save lives.”

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Daily ‘dose’ of dark chocolate might protect the heart

Another study supports the antioxidant goodness of dark, but not milk, chocolate.

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Plain water intake reduces risk for type 2 diabetes

Reuters reports that according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who drank water instead of fruit juice or sugary sodas appeared to have about a seven percent less risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

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Consumer Reports article looks at healthcare price variation

The National Journal reports, “A new story from Consumer Reports highlights how extreme price variation and sketchy transparency can mean that even insured patients often end up on the hook for huge, unanticipated bills.”

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Best and worst magnesium supplements identified

Magnesium supplements are among the most popular supplements in the U.S. But which magnesium supplements are best?

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Study: NSAIDs, aspirin, and acetaminophen may all reduce risk for certain skin cancers

A big new study says common pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen can cut the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma.

On NBC Nightly News, chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman, MD, explained, “In a Danish study published in ‘Cancer,’ over 18,000 people who took these drugs for several years had decreased cancer rates of malignant melanoma.”

Investigators found that people taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) “were less likely to develop skin cancer – including squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma – especially when they took the drugs for at least seven years or used them at least twice a week,” the Time “Healthland” blog reports.

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NYTimes: Patients should talk with physicians about prostate cancer testing, treatments

In an editorial, the New York Times addresses the controversy surrounding the recent United States Preventive Services Task Force recommendations on PSA testing.

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FDA warns of fake version of ADHD medication

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Food and Drug Administration is warning that a fake version of Adderall (amphetamine, dextroamphetamine mixed salts) is being sold on the Internet.

The AP reports that the agency “says the product purports to be 30-milligram Adderall tablets, but it does not contain the right ingredients. The pills contain the pain drugs tramadol and acetaminophen instead.”

The Boston Globe reports that the agency, in a media statement, said, “Consumers should be extra cautious when buying their medicines from online sources.” According to the FDA, “Rogue websites and distributors may especially target medicines in short supply for counterfeiting.”

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Obese women at higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis

The Chicago Tribune reports, “Obese women may have an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.”

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Some 28 million Americans tan indoors each year

The Huffington Post reported, “A new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reveals that 50 percent of young adults ages 18 through 29 say they’ve had at least one sunburn in the past year.”

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New sunscreens combine makeup, moisturizers, and self-tanners

The Los Angeles Times reported, “A shot glass full of sunscreen should be applied to exposed skin every day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, but most people apply just 25% to 50% of the recommended amount.”

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Consumer reports tests, rates popular sunscreen brands

The Los Angeles Times reports, “Consumer Reports tested some popular brands” of sunscreen and found that “the best choices are not necessarily the most expensive.”

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USPSTF: Risks of HRT may still outweigh benefits

The Los Angeles Times reports, “Women who are past menopause and healthy should not take hormone replacement therapy in hopes of warding off dementia, bone fractures or heart disease, according to a new analysis by the” US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

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Office break rooms, kitchens high-risk areas for germs in workplace

The Dallas Morning News reports, “A new study by Irving-based Kimberly-Clark Corp. says the office break room and kitchen are some of the most germ-contaminated areas in the workplace.”

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Malpractice cases take years to resolve, though nearly all favor the physician

Reuters reports on a study of 10,000 medical malpractice claims during the years 2002-2005 published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study found that a little over half (55 percent) result in lawsuits. Of those, over half are dismissed; most of the remaining are resolved before a verdict, with under five percent resulting in a trial verdict.

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Research suggests calcium supplements increase heart attack risk

USA Today reports, “Taking a calcium supplement to help prevent bones from thinning puts people at a greater risk for heart attacks, says a report out in the journal Heart.” The study involved about “24,000 people between the ages of 35 and 64.”

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Body Building, Diet Supplements Linked to Liver Damage: Study

Body-building and weight-loss products are the types of dietary supplements most likely to cause liver injury, according to a small new study.

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Weight loss reduces hormone levels linked to breast cancer risk

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports that “losing as little as 5% of one’s body weight – 10 pounds for a 200-pound woman – drives down levels of estrogen and other hormones that raise breast cancer risk,” according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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U.S. Teens Heading for Heart Trouble: Study

Many American teenagers, including some with a normal, healthy weight, already have one or more risk factors for heart disease, researchers say.

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Diabetes, prediabetes skyrocketing in US teens

A new study shows type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes have skyrocketed among adolescents.

USA Today reports, “Diabetes and pre-diabetes have skyrocketed among the nation’s young people, jumping from 9% of the adolescent population in 2000 to 23% in 2008,” according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

For the study, researchers “examined health data on about 3,400 adolescents ages 12 to 19 from 1999 through 2008. They participated in the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.”

The study authors “found little significant change in the last decade for teen rates of hypertension or abnormal cholesterol,” the Washington Post “On Parenting” blog reports. “There was also little change in the percentage of overweight and obese teens, but at 34 percent that figure remains troubling.”

However, “it was the spike in diabetes and prediabetes that stood out. The analysis shows a steady uptick in the percentages with the conditions since 1999.”

The Time “Healthland” blog points out, “While heart attacks and strokes typically don’t occur until adulthood, CDC researchers found that in many cases, the 3,400 teens studied had an alarming number of cardiovascular risk factors. Most unnerving was the conclusion that 37% of normal-weight teens had at least one risk factor.”

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Editorials urge efforts to reduce obesity

USA Today reports, “Ever wonder why health care costs keep rising faster than inflation? One major contributor is America’s struggle with weight.”

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Half of US overweight teens at risk for serious health problems

The AP reports, “Half the nation’s overweight teens have unhealthy blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar levels that put them at risk for future heart attacks and other cardiac problems,” according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

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